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All Saints, Buckland, Buckinghamshire

(51°48′11″N, 0°42′48″W)
SP 888 124
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Buckinghamshire
now Buckinghamshire
  • Ron Baxter

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Buckland is a village in the Vale of Aylesbury, some four and a half miles east of the centre of Aylesbury. It lies just to the north of Akeman Street, the Roman road running from London to join the Fosse Way at Cirencester. The village is built along a minor road running through flat pastureland, with the church at its centre. All Saints church has a nave with a N aisle and S porch, and chancel with a N vestry and a W tower. It was restored by the architect George Devey in 1867-69, and a photograph in the church shows its pre-restoration state. Devey added the vestry and the porch, moving the E window of the aisle to the E wall of the new vestry. A blocked arch on the N side of the chancel in this photograph indicates that a chapel had been removed well before the restoration; this arch was reopened when the new vestry was added. Devey also added large dragon gargoyles to the angles of the tower, and battlements to the nave and aisle walls. The chancel was refitted with a grand altar in place of the wooden table that now stands in the vestry. The present church was begun in 1272-73 and was dedicated in 1284, and most of the main features that are not Devey's are late-13thc. or 14thc. The nave has N and S clerestories; a late-13thc. three-bay N arcade; a 14thc. Totternhoe S doorway with square rosettes in the arch and knight and lady label stops; and lower windows with Y- tracery or reticulated tracery, and upper ones square-headed with cusped arches. The chancel looks totally 19thc. The tower has diagonal buttresses, no W doorway or plinth, and cusped-headed windows and bell-openings. The church is constructed of local flints, with Totternhoe stone blocks incorporated more-or-less randomly, but mostly in the tower. The features recorded here are the font of c.1200 and a sheela-na-gig of uncertain date set in the chancel S exterior wall, presumably during Devey's restoration. The parish is now part of the benefice of Aston Clinton with Buckland and Drayton Beauchamp.


Buckland was held by Walter from Bishop Remigius of Lincoln in 1086, the manor being assessed at 10 hides with meadow for two plough-teams and woodland for 300 pigs. Before the Conquest it was held by Godric from his brother, Bishop Wulfwig of Dorchester. Buckland belonged to the see until the 16thc., the tenancy passing at some time in the 12thc. to William de Bussey. At his death in 1185 it was divided between his daughters Matilda, married to Hugh Wake, and Cecilia, married to John de Builly. Matilda's portion passed to her daughter Joan, who married first Alan de Mumby and then Thomas de Gravenel, who was seised of it in 1218. At Joan's death in 1247 it passed to her son John de Gravenel. Meanwhile the portion inherited from William de Bussey to his other daughter Cecilia passed to their daughter Idonea, wife of Robert de Vipont, and thence to her heir John and thence to his son Robert. In 1257 Robert de Vipont and John de Gravenel came to an agreement whereby the entire manor was held by John de Gravenel for life, and then passed to Robert de Vipont and his heirs for ever. Details of the later fortunes of this complex tenancy may be found in VCH. The chapel of Buckland was originally dependant on the prebendal church of Aylesbury, along with the chapels of Bierton, Quarrendon and Stoke Mandeville. In 1266 the four chapels were separated from the mother church and given to the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln. In 1294 the vicarage of Bierton was ordained, with the chapels of Buckland, Quarrendon and Stoke Mandeville, and that was the position until 1858 when Buckland and Stoke Mandeville were formed into separate benefices. The advowson of Buckland has remained with Lincoln since 1266. The parish is now in the benefice of Aston Clinton with Buckland and Drayton Beauchamp.


Exterior Features

Exterior Decoration




The font belongs to a group of 22 (according to Pevsner) centred on Aylesbury, of which thirteen (not all complete) are in Buckinghamshire. These are at Aylesbury, Bledlow, Buckland, Chearsley, Chenies, Great Kimble, Great Missenden, Linslade, Little Missenden, Monks Risborough, Pitstone, Weston Turville and Wing. Of these the finest are at Aylesbury, Chenies, Great Kimble, Great Missenden (base only), Weston Turville and Wing (base only). Others in the group have shallower or less complex carving, while a further three in the county, at Ludgershall, Saunderton and Haddenham, are less adept copies of the design. Outside Buckinghamshire there are related fonts at Duston and Eydon in Northants, and at Barton-le-Clay, Dunstable, Flitwick and Houghton Regis in Bedfordshire. These fonts are normally dated late in the 12thc., c.1170–90. The Buckland font, with its stiff-leaf decoration, is related to those at Chearsley and Saunderton, neither of which is as adeptly carved or as deeply cut as this one. The use of stiff-leaf rather than the Romanesque foliage forms found in the more celebrated members of the group (e.g. Aylesbury, Weston Turville) points to a later date, perhaps 1200–10. The font was discovered in pieces and repaired during Devey's restoration of 1867–9. The iron clamps used in this repair oxidised and expanded, shattering the font again, and it was again repaired in 2000 by the National Trust at Cliveden; the iron clamps being replaced by stainless steel ones. Sheela-na-gigs are notoriously difficult to explain, or to date. Crude carving appears to be an essential feature of the genre, and cannot be taken as diagnostic of date.

Victoria County History: Buckinghamshire. II (1908), 327–31.
K. Goodearl, The Aylesbury fonts (web resource: http://www.petergoodearl.co.uk/ken/aylesburyfonts/index.htm)
M. Thurlby, "Fluted and Chalice-Shaped: The Aylesbury Group of Fonts", Country Life, CLXXI, 1982, 228–29.
M. Thurlby, "The Place of St Albans in Regional Sculpture and Architecture in the Second Half of the Twelfth Century." in M. Henig & P. Lindley (ed.), Alban and St Albans. Roman and Medieval Architecture, Art and Archaeology. (British Archaeological Association Conference Transactions XXIV). Leeds 2001, 162–75.
N. Pevsner, Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire. London 1960, 77.
RCHME, An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Buckingham. Volume 1 (south). London 1912.